'Survivor: Philippines' Finale Recap: A Winner is Crowned in the Philippines
'Survivor: Philippines' Finale Recap: A Winner is Crowned in the Philippines
Gina Pusateri
Gina Pusateri
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
It's been 36 days and we're treated to a little recap of the season that basically consists of Abi and Pete being a-holes and Denise and Malcolm surviving the train wreck that was the original Matsing.

So we actually have a pretty deserving final four this season. With the possible exception of Jonathan Penner, who I was personally rooting for, it's hard to pick anyone on the jury who should have been in the finals besides the people who actually made it. None of them rode any coattails and they all at some point were responsible for some crucial decisions.

Back at camp, Michael compares voting out Abi to getting rid of a tumor, saying, "It's not that I'm sad for her loss, it's just that I'm happy for our peace." We couldn't have said it any better ourselves, Michael.

Reward Challenge

The challenge is for the survivors to race through a series of obstacles, collecting bags of puzzle pieces along the way. The first person to put a dragon puzzle together wins an advantage in the next day's immunity challenge. Why this just can't be the immunity challenge, I'm not quite sure, but let's just go with it.

Michael starts out with a strong lead through the obstacle course. Denise and Malcolm are hot on his trail, and Lisa is bringing up the rear. By the time they all get to the puzzle portion of the challenge, they are all pretty even. Denise starts to pull ahead and Michael falls way behind. And all of a sudden, right before Denise can finish, Malcolm does what he does and comes from nowhere to win the challenge.

Denise starts to realize that Malcolm may be waffling on their original alliance when he won't give her a commitment to take her to the finals with him. So she decides she needs a Plan B. She talks to Lisa and tells her that if Malcolm doesn't win immunity, she will vote with Michael and Lisa to vote him off.

There's a lot of rigmarole about how they're so excited to finally vote Malcolm off and blah, blah, blah. FYI: he's probs gonna win immunity, so you might want to calm down.

Then there's the walk of fallen comrades, which I barely like sitting through let alone recapping. If you've seen the show before, you know what a waste of time this is. So moving on...

Immunity Challenge

For the final challenge of the season, the final four have to balance a ball on a wooden cylinder. Every five minutes, they'll have to add two pieces of wood to either side of the handle of their cylinder. Malcolm's advantage is that he has a second chance in case he drops his ball.

The first round is uneventful. But after the first five minutes pass and two more pieces are added, Malcolm starts to get a little shaky. Soon he drops his ball and they all have to reset for his second chance. Now they are all on an even playing field.

Right after they reset, Malcolm gets wobbly again. He drops his ball and is out of the challenge, and most likely out of the game. Ouch. Denise drops her ball right after Malcolm, and just like that, the power alliance from the beginning of the game is dunzo. And no matter who wins, Michael and Lisa have control over who is going to the finals.

After a few more rounds, Lisa snaps and drops her ball, so Michael wins the last immunity.

Malcolm is rightfully saying that when he gets nervous, like when he talks to girls, his hands get shaky. Aww, Malcolm gets nervous around girls. He probably couldn't be more endearing if he tried. But charm aside, Malcolm doesn't seem to regret not promising Denise a place in the finals when he had the chance because he has complete faith that Lisa and Michael will take him to the end.

Michael is having "primal thoughts" about wanting to bring Malcolm to finals so he can beat him "man-on-man" like the two "battling soldiers." I have a problem with this train of thought for two reasons. 1.) It's completely insulting to Denise, who has been more than a worthy adversary. 2). He dismisses the fact that he would also have to go up against Lisa, who has also probably played a better game than he has. Newsflash, Michael: you are probably not going to win against anyone, man-on-man battle or not.

Tribal Council

Basically, we hear the argument that we've been hearing for the last few weeks. Is it better to play against honorable players or against someone who you think you can win against? Except at this point, everyone left is pretty honorable. It's also clear after this tribal that Denise and Malcolm are breaking up, which is really sad. We've been rooting for those little underdogs since the beginning.

Jeff outright asks Lisa if there is any reason she should take Malcolm with her to the end. She hesitates and then says, no, there is absolutely no reason he should go to the end.

Malcolm is disappointed to hear that. And he is even more disappointed when he is voted out. He gives an angry "Congratulations" to Denise and then has his torch snuffed in a state of shock. Oh, c'est la vie, dear Malcolm. We've often found in the case of Survivor that, unfortunately, the best player doesn't win nearly as often as he or she should.

Final Tribal Council

Denise says she's not going to apologize for being in the finals. Not only is she not sorry, but she's proud of the way she's played. She points out how she's survived every tribal council and proved her worth in every tribe she was a part of.

Lisa says all three of them have outwitted, outplayed and outlasted, but she has done her best to be loyal, play the game with her heart and even takes credit for finally getting rid of Malcolm.

Michael says that since he is a returning player, he has had a target on his back since day one. He respects the core of the game, and he asks the jury do the same. And apparently, respecting the game would mean a vote for him? Okay?


Artis doesn't congratulate the final three and doesn't ask any questions. He says, "Karma is a bitch" -- how original -- and then sits back down. Thanks for contributing nothing to this game except being a jerk, Artis. Good one.

On the other hand, Carter offers his congratulations to his pal Michael and to Lisa. Michael explains to Carter that voting him off was one of the hardest moves he had to make, and the only reason they did it was because they thought they had no chance to beat him.

Pete accuses Lisa of betraying the original Tandang. She denies saying that she never knew Artis was going home, and when she found out Pete was next, she refused to vote for him. In response to a question, Denise calls out Pete for making the mistake of getting rid of R.C. instead of her when he had the chance.

Michael tells R.C. he had no idea she was going home and that was something he never would have wanted. R.C. also takes credit for Lisa being such an awesome player, because she knew it from day one. Congratulations, R.C., that really got you far.

Malcolm is mad at Denise, which is disappointing. He has no right to be so bitter because he voted for her at the same tribal council, and it could have just as easily gone the other way.

Jeff Kent says that there are three kinds of people in the world: people who make things happen, people who watch things happen and people who wonder what the hell just happened. Michael claims he's the first kind because of the target on his back all along. Lisa says she's made a lot of good moves, but Jeff insists that she's just "attempted" to make moves and was never really successful. Malcolm also seems none too pleased to hear about how hard Lisa tried to get him out of the game.

Abi is less bitter and angry than I would have expected, but she is still just as stupid. She accuses the final three of demoralizing her. Denise makes an authentic apology, saying that maybe there was a better way to communicate to Abi so her feeling wouldn't have been as hurt. But let's be honest, Denise has been nothing but mature and professional when dealing with Abi since the day of the merge.

Last of all, Jonathan makes a grand speech, which can only be expected. He tells Denise that she has shown the world what a b**** she is (wrong, Jonathan, Denise has looked like anything but a b**** to "the world"). He also debunks Michael's argument of having a "target on his back" by saying that he has literally never had his name written down at tribal council. Then he drops the bomb and tells the jury Lisa's past as a child actress, telling them that they have to consider that when they vote.

And finally, it's time to vote! Carter votes for Michael and R.C. votes for her creation Lisa. And everyone else votes for Denise and she is the Sole Survivor. As fans of this show know all too well, the best man or woman doesn't always win. But in this case, it seems like the jury made the right decision. And we can only hope we'll see Malcolm again on another season in the future.

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(Image courtesy of CBS)